Chris is an Army Ranger who received the Silver Star for his actions during a firefight with Taliban insurgents in a remote Afghan valley. Although he was born on a distant island named Yap in Micronesia, Chris was raised in Texas, about an hour south of Dallas. He played football for the Corsicana Independent High School District, making the front page in the local newspaper for being the only Pacific Island kid in the school and his success at football. One highlight of his football career was playing in the old Dallas Stadium, which made him a solid Cowboys fan. “I played there when [Hawaiian offensive lineman] Mark Tuinei was still alive,” he says. He apparently took the nametag from Tuinei’s locker, as a show of Hawaiian solidarity. “I kept the island love flowing.” That sealed his fate as a diehard Cowboys fan, he says, “no matter how horrible Tony Romo plays.”
He scored exceptionally high on the SATs, but could not afford tuition for college. “So I decided to be an Airborne Ranger,” he says. “I have always wanted to be that guy that goes beyond the what is asked for.”
And that’s just what he did during a battle deep in a remote Afghan valley on May 3, 2005. During that firefight, Chris ran across a machine-gun crossfire deep in an Afghan valley and assaulted a Taliban bunker, continuing his efforts even after realizing that he was completely alone and that his rifle had jammed. He ultimately took out four guerrilla fighters who were shooting at his squad, as well as their support contingent hiding in a bunker nearby. The Army awarded Chris a Silver Star for his actions that day.
After the firefight, Chris sent an emotional email to his family:
When the firefight was going on all I could think of was the fact that I will never be able to see my son grow up. I will not be able to see other things that we paratroopers fight for so hard, the happiness of our family. Those twenty minutes of hell were a turning point in everyone’s lives that day. My fellow paratroopers executed to the best they could to preserve the happiness we all have in our lives. I will never complain again about simple things in life anymore. I now have a relationship with my guys that no one will understand. They did great and that’s why I am here to talk about it.
My dear loved ones, I can say that I have seen the worst God has put on this planet. I am grateful to have been loved by you, cared by you, and most of all, part of a family I can call home. I know that you are praying for me every night and trying to think of great things about me so you won’t have to be troubled. I am doing okay here and I am trying my best to keep your prayers in good use. I am doing my job and I am also trying to do my best so I get to see you all, especially my little hero. I cannot tell you how much happiness there is in me. I hope that you understand.
If tomorrow never comes, know that I am a happy man with or without me saying it to you in person. My son is my sole purpose in trying everyday to accomplish any task however it may occur. I am a proud father and a brother to fellow airborne rangers. I love you guys and hope all is well home. Give everyone my regards.
Love and Peace Always: Christopher Choay, (Daddy).
Chris currently lives with his wife in Colorado.